Navbahor FC wrapped up their Group D AFC Champions League 2023/24 campaign in style with a convincing 2-1 win against hosts Mumbai City FC, on Monday evening at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Complex.
With the win in the bag, the Uzbek side ensured they advance to the round of 16 at the first time of asking, this being their debut season in the competition where they fell in a group with perennial champions Al Hilal SFC, and fellow debutants Nassaji Mazandaran.
With just a quarter of an hour having gone, the home side capitalised on the pressure they had built since the start and opened the scoring through Abdenasser Al Khayati, who headed home the rebound after Jorge Pereyra’s header was initially saved, for what was a belated first goal of the campaign for the Indian club.
At 30 minutes of play, Navbahor drew in the best possible of ways after Akash Mishra brought Abror Ismailov down outside the area, with the ensuing free-kick struck expertly by Jamshid Iskanderov, who curled it past the wall and the keeper to bring his side level again at 1-1.
Shortly before the break, Samvel Babayan’s men almost went ahead in exactly the same way they drew level, with a direct free-kick that was executed to perfection by Georgian striker Toma Tabatadze, but this time keeper Mohammad Nawaz made a fine diving save.
Anthony Fernandes’ charges missed a gilt-edged chance in stoppage time of the first half, when Greg Stewart teed up Pereyra, the Argentinian then awkwardly took the shot from short range and it skewed towards the post and then out of play.
With the last kick of the first half, the Uzbek Super League side took the lead when Jovan Dokic fired them ahead with a supreme header, rising to meet the lively Iskanderov’s perfectly taken corner.
Mumbai City FC will bow out having not won a game during the current campaign, while Navbahor’s heroics ensure they go through to the next round as one of the best placed runners-up in the group stage.
— Arunava Chaudhuri | arunfoot (@Arunfoot) December 4, 2023